Friday, October 31, 2014

"It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"...How Offensive!

"Hey," I said to my kids as they waited for trick-or-treaters to knock on our door. "I've got a show for you guys to watch!" I opened the DVD player and put in the movie, something from my childhood, something that with every frame screams "Halloween."

Thank you Mr. Schulz!

Little did I realize, this film probably wouldn't be able to be shown, let alone made if it came out today. For some, this little holiday film could be considered extremely offensive. There's children dressing up as witches and ghosts (depending on who you are, both either exist or don't exist...), there's bullying by siblings (Lucy vs Linus...), bullying by classmates (everyone vs Linus, Lucy vs Charlie vs football...), a woman giving up material things to be with a man (Sally and Linus...) and therefore, gives up material things when she shows support for a man, unfair distribution of wealth (some kids get goodies while others get rocks...), and at no time were there ANY parents accompanying their children as these gangs of children wandered the streets alone and unprotected.

There's even the horrors of war.

In our oversensitive world almost everything in this cartoon is offensive to someone, and that's a shame because it's a great little story. It's the story about the faith of a child and yes, his faith is misguided, but it's pure and innocent. He's ridiculed and ostracized, his friends desert him, he even doubts his own faith, but in the end, his resolve is stronger than ever. Linus is a man we can and should respect.

Yes, I wonder how long those who have taken it upon themselves to save us from ourselves will decide that Mr. Schulz, though most likely a good man, was nothing by a propagandist for so many bad things and will have this classic film banned. Probably not too long.

I mean, he also wrote "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and we all know what that show's really about.

But as for me in my house, we'll keep watching!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

To Dress Up For Halloween At Work...Or Not

Chances are, where you work allows--to some degree--their employees to dress up on Halloween (or close to it if many of your workers won't be at work on Halloween day...). I've worked at several places and I've found it to be the case at every one of them.

But, it always begs the question...should we? I mean, we have a dress code at work that includes (among other things...) no wearing of jeans unless it's a Friday and unless you have purchased a shirt with an official work logo on it--nice way to generate a little revenue for the ol' corporate shirt manufacturers. But at my work they've never been too stingy to deny us the ability to dress up.

Some places go all out--some not so much. To be honest, I have no idea how people are going to dress at work tomorrow--I won't be there. For the past several years I've taken Halloween day off. It's a great day to be home and help out with all the pre-Halloween activities, the carvings of pumpkins, decorating the house, getting ready for a party if there's one to go to.

Today our department decided to have a party. We brought potluck for lunch and a couple of us dressed up. Actually, I just wore my homemade Charlie Brown sweatshirt. Interesting side story: I also wore it at rehearsal tonight and a girl about 12 or so asked me what was up with my orange shirt with the black stripes. What kind of a world do we live in when kids no longer recognize Charlie Brown? Not a good one, that's what.

After weighing the pros and cons, I say letting the employees dress up probably does more good than harm. Of course, that depends a lot on the costume and who's wearing it. And if you know what I'm talking about, then you know what I'm talking about. I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween day tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marcus Luttrell's "Lone Survivor"...A Book Report


Every book has the potential to affect the reader on a personal level. I think most books are written for that purpose. Some fail disastrously. Some succeed beyond anyone's wildest expectations, and the rest fall in between.

I recently finished Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor, and you strip away the political discussion, the pros and cons of war, or more specifically, the reason of even building a fighting force in the first place, what you find in Luttrell's re-telling of the horror he met in Afghanistan is a story about survival and the will to live.

And, even if you disagree with everything he stands for as an American soldier, it's a story that remains with you and forces you to contemplate living and dying, good and evil.

Of course, I read the story after it's been out for several years and after a film of the event has been made (of which I haven't seen...). However, I don't believe the time that's passed makes a difference in the experience I had reading the book. The book's narrative mirror's that of another story I read about the Navy Seals, Mark Owen's No Easy Day, a detailed account of the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Luttrell describes his becoming a Navy Seal. And since the story is so well known, we know the physical and mental punishment he experiences prepare him for what lies ahead.

We then learn of his assignment and he brings us along into the Afghan mountains. We learn of decisions made and eventually the gunfight that ensues. As I read this story it made me think of my life, how I live, what would I do to protect something--anything, and what the term "sacrifice" means to the storyteller.

It also describes in agonizingly great detail the horrors of war. It's one man's story. It's a tough story to read, which, I believe, is why it was written. Books try to affect the reader. For me, this one succeeded.

* Photo used without permission from:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CPT's "Jekyll And Hyde"...Simply Amazing!

Saturday afternoon my wife and I attended a production of Centerpoint Legacy Theatre's Jekyll & Hyde. It was dark, emotional, dramatic and simply amazing!

I didn't know the show at all, nor was I familiar with the music, but I believe I experienced as good a production as I could have seen. I was anticipating seeing the show. Ever since I did the show previously at the theater, I got a chance to see some of the sets as they were being built. When I finally got to see the show, I LOVED what they did with them! And to make the experience even better, the show had a definite steampunk vibe to it. I wished SO much I could take pictures during the show, but that's not allowed. I sneaked onstage after the final show and took a few pictures--too bad they don't do the set justice.

I had friends in both casts (for shows at this theater, they double-cast each show and the shows run for about a month, therefore no one has to do a solid month of shows--nice since we're all volunteer performers...), but somehow I had a majority of friends in one cast so that's the one we went and saw. 

Seeing only one cast makes me want to see the other casts, and I heard multiple times from friends who saw both that this was a show where you want to see both.

Unfortunately, that's not possible. We saw the show the second-to-last day of the run and now, it's over. The sets were struck before the patrons had even cleared the building.

So, well done Stan Babb, Darin Beardall, Kenn Johnson, Holly Jo Cushing, Jillian Joy, Silas Stott, Seth Jerome, Matt Moss and Mary Ann West. As well as Rob Child Zach Watts, Joshua Mitchell and Trent Brown who were in the other cast (sorry, I'm sure you guys kicked butt as well...). And everyone else involved in the show with whom I haven't done shows in the past. Very well done, indeed!

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Pre-Halloween Tradition...Happy Birthday Mom

I think I've only missed a couple of years when she was with us and only one after she passed. It's a holiday tradition, except it's a month before Thanksgiving and two before Christmas. We pick out a pumpkin that we'll carve early and once done, place it atop a tombstone in a cemetery on a hill.

I've written about it before, to celebrate my mother's birthday instead of cake and ice cream, we carve a jack-o-lantern. 

Yesterday as the weekend came to a close was when I asked the kids what pattern they thought would be fun and we cut it up.

Autumn is my favorite time of year and it's not even close. I love the crisp air, the beautiful colors, the time when all children dream of Halloween as the unofficial beginning of the holiday season. 

But now, a sense of melancholy drifts into this time of year as we're reminded of a wonderful woman.

When I think of her, I want to be better. I want to do better. I want to make her proud. It seems the least I can do is carve a pumpkin and leave it on her grave.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Tie I Didn't Wear To Church Today...

Back on October 4, 2014, I wrote a blog post in which I expressed some thoughts concerning a local sports team. It was after a tough, tough home loss where they lost more than the game, they lost several key players. The link to that post can be found: HERE. That post generated a comment from a friend and fan of the team. I'm glad he wrote it. 

Turns out, it was just the beginning of a nightmare four-game losing streak. If you live in the local area and follow sports, you've heard all about it. When I wrote my post three weeks ago I had no idea things would turn so poorly for them. But, sports can be a fickle mistress. 

In other local sports news, another local team has fared much better in the month of October, which, for die-hard fans of BYU and who dislike the Utes, only adds to the agony--salt in the already painful wound. Last night around 11:50pm mountain daylight time, many happy fans stormed the home field as the boys from Utah defeated their counterparts from the University of Southern California. I was too worked up to go to sleep right after the game, but this morning as I dressed for church, I wondered if I should wear "the tie."

I was given my University of Utah football tie several years ago. Since then the team I follow and root for has been at times one of the best football teams in the country and one of the worst teams in their own conference. I've experienced the ups and downs that many of my friends who rise and shout are feeling now. Sometimes after a big Utah Utes win on a Saturday, I'll don my tie and wear it with pride while sitting among my neighbors.

Today, though, it just didn't seem like the thing to do. During the dark days of Utah football, it's not fun to be reminded of mediocrity. No, I'll wait for another day. The next several weeks are going to be brutal for my crimson soldiers. They might not win another game and I may have missed my chance to wear the victory tie, but that's okay. There's always next season. Yeah, we'll get 'em next year for sure!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Day In History...The Day The Twins Were Born

One advantage of writing in a journal everyday for the past thirty years (almost...) is you can find what you did on a certain day in history. Twenty-three years ago today our extended family welcomed two bundles of joy and I recorded the event in my journal.

But as I read about the rest of my day a little more than two decades ago, it's kind of confusing. I was a senior in college and at this time of year, I was busy with work and singing. We were getting ready for the Christmas season and the University of Utah A'cappella choir was singing like crazy trying to earn money for our European tour. 

I recorded that I saw the twins, then I partied with several choir friends, Alan, Stephanie (the two were married a month before my wife and I...), another Stephanie, Matt Bill, Russell, and Carrie. I have no idea where we partied but I always had fun handing out with those great people.

Then I apparently went home and did a little more partying with my roommate Matt, Julie and Megan. For the life of me, I can't remember who Julie and Megan were--Maybe Matt remembers. And, I believe I should clarify here, when I say "partied," or "partying" I'm not talking about an alcoholic rager where anything and everything could and did happen. No, my college partying consisted mostly hanging out, chatting, and maybe breaking open a Coca-Cola. Boring for some, I know, but we had great times, nonetheless.

In the past couple of months I've been referencing my old journals more and more. I should do it more often. Happy birthday, twins! Glad to have you here!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Meet Treion Muller, Author, Gentleman, All-Around Good Guy...

One of the benefits of participating in community theater is the people you meet. And almost every time, the people I meet surprise me with not only their incredible talents on stage, but the kind of people they are off stage.

When I first met Treion I couldn't quite understand what people were calling him. It took a while but I finally understood his name was Treion. As these things go, there's downtimes during rehearsals when we can chat and get to know the other cast members. Treion and I talked and I found out he's originally from South Africa and works for a company where I once worked, though it's been almost 20 years since I worked there.

It wasn't until tonight that I learned my friend is an author--a real, live published author. You can access his website: HERE. He wrote Reality Parenting: As NOT Seen on TV, and Dad Rules: A Simple Manual for a Complex Job. He's also co-written several other books. I learned also he was a university student body president, university mascot, professional dancer and motivational speaker.

I know a lot of people who can't understand giving up so much time to do a show and spend all that time doing something and not getting paid to do it. For me, there's a lot of reasons to do a show and meeting people like Treion helps make it all worth it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle In Time"...A Book Review


Yesterday I finished Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time. Boy, I wish I had read this in Jr. High, or High School like everyone else!

I don't know why I didn't read it earlier. Then again, there's about a million books I should have read earlier, but didn't. In doing a little research, I can understand why it took the author several tries and multiple rejections before it was published. It is a different book. But I can also understand why it's never been out of print.

What I think I enjoyed most about the book is its innocence. Many of the main characters seem mature even though they're younger, if somewhat simple. I think some modern authors feel their characters have to be quirky to make an impact. I know I've feel the pressure to write middle grade characters to be extra funny or possessing the ability to speak in a manner that overwhelms with their intellect. I loved the conversations in this book. They basically told it like it was.

Then again. I wonder if this book would be published if it were introduced today. Would it be rejected because of a bias against the modern reader? Would publishers believe it could find an audience now? Good things to think about.

I would imagine most of you have read this book, maybe read it ten, twenty or more years ago. It took me almost fifty years. I'm glad I finally got to it.

* Photo used without permission from:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kid Cooks...Love it!

It began with our oldest taking an interest in food preparation. He became so good at it that he has considered making this a focus of his career. Of course, a lot of things can happen (and will happen...) between now and when he finds his career, but I think there's a good chance  he may end up in the food industry.

Next up--the siblings! The next two kids have found a place in the kitchen, too, except where the oldest made mostly dinners, these two have focused on desserts.

And I'm 100% okay with that!

It's been so fun to have kids just make desserts for no other reason than they want to. My son's speciality is brownies and cookies--they're fantastic! My daughter has been a little more experimental making from scratch cakes, sweet rolls, and as of this week, cheesecake cupcakes complete with homemade graham cracker crusts.

I consider myself a very lucky papa, even if the kiddies didn't make these delicious treats! The desserts are just icing on the cake!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Orson Scott Card's "Shadow Of The Hegemon," And "Shadow Puppets"...Getting Lost In The Enderverse


Today I finished Shadow Puppets, Book 3 in the Shadow Saga Series.

And I’m getting lost in the world.

A few months ago a friend and I were discussing all the Ender Wiggin's books written by Orson Scott Card. It's been years since I read the Ender's Series (Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide...) and we talked about how much we liked those books.

"Have you read the Bean series?" he asked.

"You mean, Ender's Shadow?"

"Yeah," he said. "The Bean books are my favorite books he's written."

I decided then to give those books another try. And I'm glad I did! I don't know if I can say I like this series more than the Ender's Series, but I do like them. I like getting lost in that world. I'm also reading the Formic Wars Series which starts the Enderverse.

The two books, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Shadow Puppets follow the lives of Bean, Petra (two soldiers who helped Ender Wiggin defeat the buggers...), Ender's brother Peter, and Peter's parents as they participate in a deadly game with Achilles, a truly despicable person bent on world domination and personal revenge. In the first book Bean saves the kidnapped Petra (I apologize for any spoilers...), and in the second book, the Bean and Petra get married and then are threatened once again by Achilles. An author's note at the end of Shadow of the Hegemon explains some of the thinking that went into the story, namely the political posturing of nations for control. Card mentions his love of the game RISK as a child. I can definitely see the influence of that game in these stories.

I'm not done--I've got a few more of the Ender's Shadow Series books on hold at the library and will hopefully be getting them soon. I can say, like J.R.R. Tolkien, had Card only created this one world, he would have been considered an amazing visionary writer (my opinion...), but if you're a fan of his other works, you know his abilities stretch far beyond the Enderverse.

On to the next! I've got to see how this thing ends.

* Photo used without permission from:

¶ Photo used without permission from:

Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Keep A Cat From Going Under The Bed...

Twice a year, a ritual occurs in the Taylor household...the changing of the clothes. In our basement we have several plastic containers full of clothes. In the winter the containers are full of summer clothes and in the summer the long-sleeve shirts, sweats, and sweaters are stored.

Because we have three sons, we take the term "hand-me down" very seriously. Luckily my boys are not so concerned with wearing the most up-to-date fashions. In fact, today I sent a picture that I took of my youngest son to my oldest son who is currently serving an LDS mission. He said he remembered wearing that same shirt. I didn't even remember that we had that shirt ten years ago (to me, it still looks in great shape...). Yes, we save stuff. The only downside is all those clothes take up a lot of storage space in the basement.

We usually wait until we're pretty sure the weather's turned for good before we go through the all day process (and sometimes it takes all day...) of swapping the clothes. Today was the day to make the change. Last year we bought some of those space bags and they've been great. This year my son had a fantastic idea.

Let's put some of the clothes under our bed so the cat can't go under the bed to avoid being put in her room. If we don't put Gracie in her room at night, the other cat will come in and they'll start fighting. The last sound you want to hear in the middle of the night is two cats fighting inside your house.

So, we swapped the clothes, freed up some storage space and denied our cat a hiding space--that's a pretty good day!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Value Of 99¢...


What can you buy for 99¢?

An app.

Excluding tax and an extra penny, pretty much anything at the Dollar Store.

And, if you're lucky, a can of pop from certain vending machines.

But, for a limited time, you can buy...



Adventures into exciting new worlds!

Yes! For a limited time, you can buy published anthologies from Xchyler Publishing! And they're only NINETY-NINE CENTS!

Dive headlong into the magical world of Fantasy with Moments In Millennia, A Fantasy Antology. 

Explore the world of dragons with Forged In Flame, A Dragon Anthology.

If steampunk's your thing, there's two books for you! Mechanized Masterpieces, A Steampunk Anthology and Terra Mechanica, A Steampunk Anthology.

There's one for thriller fans: A Dash of Madness, A Thriller Anthology.

And one for those who like paranormal. Shades and Shadows, A Paranormal Anthology.

But you'd better hurry! I don't know how long these incredible deals will last! Seriously, if you've got a buck, just go to Amazon: HERE and download any or all of these books! They're full of great stories from some pretty talented authors. I'm sure you'll find something for you!

* Photo used without permission from:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Reincarnation Of Thrift Store Items...

I don't know if you like to shop at thrift stores. If you've followed this blog for any length of time--especially when I first began the blog years ago--you'll know I love thrift stores. Give me a free afternoon and I would go and see what's available. 

The past couple of years, I've not visited the shop as much, mostly because our small house is running out of room to store all the stuff that others obviously didn't need and that we really don't need, either. Good stuff to have, mind you. I mean, we've already got an edger, but there's an even nicer edger than the one I bought at the thrift store just a year earlier. Heck--I might one day regret not getting the nicer edger. It could happen.

There's a very nice thrift store about five miles from my house and that's the one I shop at. The store is owned and operated by the LDS church and selling donated stuff is only part of its mission. It's really a fantastic operation considering all the good they do.

And since I go to the same store over and over again, I'll see the same stuff that went unsold. It's the same stuff I saw a week or two before. I've also seen stuff that we ourselves donated. After my mom passed away and we cleaned out her house, I went to the store a few weeks after and saw items we had donated (and I even thought about buying some of those...).

But yesterday I saw something I had never seen before--an item that I knew had been in that same thrift store years earlier. I knew this not because it had a previous price sticker on it. I knew this because the item--a drum kit--was the exact same item WE bought! My kids were younger and I bought it because I thought one of them might be interested in learning to play the drums.

Nope--they weren't.

Last year we ended up giving to our next-door neighbors because their son was interested in playing the drums. I don't know if it was them that donated it to the thrift store or if the drum set was donated, bought by someone else and then donated again.

So, if you live near me and you know someone interested in a non-complete drum kit, it was still there as of yesterday afternoon. Of course, it could be gone by now. I wonder if I'll see it back at the thrift store again. There's more than a good chance I will.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Penny!

Two years ago I didn't know Penny Freeman--I think we might have been Facebook friends at the time, or commented on similar posts from the iWriteNetwork. We had many of the same friends. Little did I know that two years later this woman would greatly impact my fledgling writing career.

Penny's amazing! Simply put...amazing! Without Penny Xchyler Publishing would not exist. And without Xchyler, I wouldn't have three short stories published in three anthologies. I was lucky enough to meet Penny at this year's Salt City Steamfest in August. The pictures here are of Penny and her brother Scott. She was wonderful, even considering the previous week she and her family had had.

But if you know nothing else of Penny, I want you to know she's an exceptional writer and editor. I've been fortunate enough to have my short stories published alongside hers. She writes the kind of stories that stay with you and live a while in your mind.

Today is Penny's birthday and I'm glad to be considered her friend. Happy birthday, Penny and thanks--thanks for everything!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Newest Appliance...

I had a conversation with my wife a few weeks ago and it went something like this:

"Honey, I'm going to a garage sale tomorrow. They have a water cooler I'm interested in. What do you think?"

A water cooler, I thought. "Cool!" I said.

And so, she picked it up and brought it home. After several attempts to find the large, five-gallon water jugs (thank you Smith's Marketplace...) we filled them up with artesian spring water, plugged in the cooler, and slapped on a huge jug of water.

Walla! Instant hot, cold, and room temperature water! No more heating water separately for tea or hot chocolate! No more using the fridge as our only source of cold water!

But, one of the coolest (literally...) features of our newest appliance we only found after we had moved it inside, plugged it in and filled it with water. There's a mini-fridge underneath the water dispensing area. I mean, that's a nice feature. Too bad I can't take the water cooler to work and keep it in my cubicle--they frown on personal fridges at work.

We've had the cooler for a few weeks. It's a winner! The only downsize--now we'll have to swap out our oven, fridge, and dishwasher for stainless steel models...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fathead Military Ad...Brilliant

I saw an ad yesterday for a wall decal, but for me, it was much more than that.

Maybe you've seen it. It's from Fathead Wall Decals. I've always thought they had a great product with huge wall-sized decals of sports heroes, superheroes, Disney images, Star Wars images, Video Game images and other art scenes. 

They also have military pictures. I wonder if the company catches any heat over their support of the military. I'm sure there are those who disapprove of any support of the military, but I don't believe it's the majority. I think the military decals look fantastic.

I would have loved to have had these things when I was a kid and I would have liked to have been able to buy something like this for my kids. I think I checked into it once--to see how much the decals were. They're high quality and therefore, a little too pricey for us so we never purchased them for our home.

But when I saw the ad, it gave me a new appreciation for the company and their mission. The ad shows a toddler giving a hug to an image of his father that's on the wall, a father who cannot be with his young family because he's serving his country. What a great thing for the company to do. And Fathead is donating all the net profits from the sale of their military products to Operation Homefront, an organization that provides emergency assistance for US military troops, the families they leave behind and wounded servicemen when they come home.

My father came from a military family with five brothers serving in WWII, my dad included. It's humbling to see a company do something nice for the military when they don't have to.

To those at Fathead, well done! I wish only for the best with this campaign and continued success in the future! You can see the full ad: HERE. You can access information on Fathead's military program: HERE. You can go to the company's website: HERE.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thank You...Dr. Hendricks

Back when I first entered college--decades ago--I remember sitting in on an informal orientation with a bunch of other freshmen at the beginning of the new year. It was a Utah State and I was glad for the meeting. I really didn't know much about college. In fact, I had not yet chosen a major. I thought I HAD to choose a major when I started school. Such was the depth of my lack of knowledge.

A few of us sat around the student union building (I forgot the name of it...) and the person from school assigned to our group asked us each what degree we were pursuing. I said I wasn't sure, but I remember one guy who was quite sure what he wanted to do.

He wanted to be a chiropractor.

The USU rep said, "Oh, so you want to make a lot of money?" He said he did and we all laughed.

I think that's the first time I ever heard about chiropractic care. I never saw a chiropractor in my youth and I really didn't know what they did. Today I visited, for the second time in as many days, a chiropractor and he has helped my back feel so much better. If you're in Davis County, Dr. Hendricks has my recommendation.

And now that I think about it...I wonder if that fellow student ever became a chiropractor. I mean, if he just wanted to make a lot of money, it's much easier to start a church.